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Shortcomings in government agencies’ procurement of consultancy services

There is room for improvement when it comes to management in the procurement of consultancy services by government agencies. Examples include areas such as accounting, coordination, needs analyses and follow-up. Furthermore, the audit by the Swedish National Audit Office reveals that the government framework agreements are not used to their fullest extent.

Detail, pen writing the word process.

Photo: ELINOR HALL

Government agencies annually procure goods, services and construction works to a value of approximately SEK 90 billion. A large portion constitutes different types of consultancy services, such as IT, management and communications consultants.

The Swedish NAO has audited the government agencies’ use of consultancy services. The overall results of the audit indicate that such use is not always well founded and that the agencies often fall short in exercising control.

– There are many excellent examples of good consultancy use, but all too often there are shortcomings in areas such as transparency, accounting and follow-up, says Auditor General Helena Lindberg.

The audit findings include

  • The accounting is not transparent, both in regard to the size of the costs and what the consultants provide in their service.
  • The procurement work often lacks structure, coordination and a holistic perspective.
  • On many occasions, procurement officers and buyers lack support and tools in the procurement process to assist in making well-founded decisions.
  • The government framework agreements are used to a lesser extent than what they could be.
  • The agencies rarely follow up on the work of consultants during and after a project’s run.
  • The knowledge transfer from the consultants to the agencies’ staff, where relevant, does not always work as it should.

– Digitisation and rapid IT development will likely lead to increased use of different types of consultancy services by government agencies. This underlines the importance of addressing the shortcomings highlighted in the review, says Philippe Jolly, project manager for the audit.

Recommendations

On the basis of the audit results, the Swedish NAO gives the following recommendations:

  • The Government should explore the possibilities of requiring agencies to account for their procurement of consultancy services.
  • The Government should instruct the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency and the National Agency for Public Procurement to jointly review how use of the government framework agreements can be increased, and also how government agencies can procure more joint consultancy solutions.

The National Agency for Public Procurement should increasingly prioritise its work with assisting procuring agencies and units.

Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.

Presskontakt: , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.

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Updated: 12 October 2018

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